Thursday, January 27, 2011

Five pre-game thoughts: VCU

1.) On one hand, VCU is a good matchup for the Flying Dutchmen. The Rams often play a four-guard lineup and, with The Larry Sanders Show off playing in the NBA, are about as lean in the post as the Dutchmen. So this is a good opportunity for Greg Washington to build on his career-best game Monday and for David Imes to bounce back. In addition, point guard Joey Rodriguez—the engine of the Rams—is as exciting as he is unpredictable. It’s truly impossible to try and guess what he’ll do each trip up the floor. Get him flustered and the domino effect will lead to big things for the Dutchmen.

2.) On the other hand, this could be a troublesome matchup. The Rams are the closest thing the CAA has to the old Arkansas “40 Minutes of Hell” teams and love to press as much as possible. The Dutchmen are better handling the press now than they were in November, when Western Kentucky mounted that stunning comeback win in Puerto Rico by turning up the pressure in the final few minutes, but the inexperience of Brad Kelleher and the Dutchmen’s lack of depth could present some problems. If Kelleher struggles, expect to see a lot of Charles Jenkins running the point. Mo Cassara will also have to be more creative than ever in maximizing the players at his disposal.

3.) It’ll also be interesting to see how much spring the Dutchmen have in their legs. The overtime win over James Madison was exhausting and the Dutchmen spent another long day on the bus yesterday getting to Richmond just ahead of the epic snowstorm (but their day wasn’t nearly as long as Towson’s—leaving at 3 pm for a 7 pm game in the Beltway, this is why you’re 0-10). A fast pace could drain the Dutchmen, or they may once again be fueled by adrenaline.

4.) Statistically speaking, VCU’s Siegel Center is the toughest place to visit—for Hofstra and the rest of the CAA. The Dutchmen have never won there in seven trips since joining the CAA (the only road venue at which they’ve never won) and VCU’s 20-game home winning streak is the fourth-longest in the country. But if the Dutchmen lose, it won’t be because they’re intimidated: Hofstra is 7-1 on the road, including 4-0 in CAA games, and Cassara, who is used to being the northern outsider from his days in the ACC with Boston College, seems to relish the idea of going into hostile environments. That attitude has clearly filtered down to the rest of the Dutchmen.

5.) This is mostly directed at us fans, though I’m sure Cassara, Jenkins and Washington have expressed the same message to the Dutchmen: Whatever happens tonight, savor it. After all we all went through after last season, the Flying Dutchmen are fighting for first place tonight on national TV (yes, now that I have ESPNU, I consider it national TV—thanks Cablevision!). This is awesome, one of those times we need to realize and appreciate that we are IN the moment, and get ready for what will surely be a wild scene at Hofstra Arena Saturday. Enjoy tonight. We have waited a long time for something like this.

5b.) Dear Charles: Please lead us to victory while scoring fewer than 35 so we can all see you break Antoine Agudio’s career record Saturday. Thanks, your friend, Defiantly Dutch.

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

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